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Ban news focus of Jackson State spring game
Offense, defense split decision on field according to Comegy
Coach Rick Comegy won’t make a decision until after spring practice on whether to keep co-offensive coordinators Gregory Black and Derrick McCall or hire a new one to replace ex-coordinator Earnest Wilson.
JSU is expected to have two more spring practices - Monday and Tuesday.
Comegy said the coordinators are “doing a pretty good job.” Receivers coach Chris Buckner, who came to JSU with Wilson, is also helping MCall and Black with offensive calls.
“There’s three of them working together, first time working together in that capacity, so there’s gonna be some slack in there,” Comegy said. “But I think once they work together more and more, once they’re calling plays,they’ll make an adjustment on how they want to do it.”
Comegy planned on interviewing three outside candidates for the job during spring practice. He said before making an outside hire he’d give a chance at the job to McCall, last year’s quarterbacks coach, and Black, the offensive line coach.
Cornerback Andre Wright, a starter last year, was denied a fifth year of eligibility by the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Comegy said.
JSU had listed Wright as a junior last season, but he had played four years, according to his bio on the school’s website. Wright was eighth on the team with 39 tackles last year and second with six pass breakups.
“We’ve got to go out and get another corner to come in there and play,” Comegy said.
Several defensive starters, including DTs Luis McLeod and Jonathan Billups and LB Milton Patterson, missed the spring game. Comegy said some players missed practice earlier this week and had to sit. … Comegy said earlier this week that Tevin Chapman is the No. 2 QB and Mark Thigpen is No. 3. But Thigpen entered immediately after No. 1 McDonald on Saturday. He ran for a 31-yard TD. … Raymond Gregory, a center on the basketball team, has joined the football team as a tight end.
Rico Richardson’s 52-yard touchdown catch, and Joseph LeBeau’s deflected interception. Rakeem Sims’ physical runs, and Qua Cox’s 75-yard pick six.
Most of the highlights in Jackson State’s spring game Saturday came from the usual suspects - except the one that might matter the most.
Before the game began, the public address announcer bellowed to the crowd that JSU’s postseason ban this season is likely to be lifted.
“So buy your season tickets now! Because we’re heading to the SWAC championship!” he said, drawing a smattering of applause from the 300-plus on hand.
Not so fast.
According to JSU, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors must first pass changes to its penalty structure in a meeting at the end of this month, something school officials say they’re “sure” will happen.
In a statement Saturday morning, JSU announced the news, saying its postseason ban this year for low Academic Progress Rate scores could be lifted because of “potential changes to the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program.”
The “potential changes” are recommendations made by HBCUs and the Limited-Resource Institutions Advisory Group that would provide more time for limited-resource institutions to transition to the 930 Academic Progress Rate benchmark.
For years, teams could avoid APR sanctions by scoring a 900 or above. That number is slowly moving to 930, putting several institutions at risk of more penalties.
“There’s a process and once it goes through the process we’re sure the recommendation will be upheld,” JSU athletic director Vivian Fuller told The Clarion-Ledger on Saturday.
If the recommendations are adopted, JSU would meet “the improvement filter” and “the team’s APR penalty and/or ineligibility for postseason competition in 2012-13 will be removed,” the statement says.
The NCAA did not reply to an email Saturday to confirm JSU’s claim. The school did not release documents to back it up despite The Clarion-Ledger’s pending open records request.
Currently, JSU is banned from the postseason for a second straight year this season and is barred from holding spring practice next year because of low APR scores, according to documents received by The Clarion-Ledger through a public records request.
The spring practice ban, Fuller said, will also be waived. “This shows we’ve done what it takes to be No. 1,” she said.
Meanwhile, an hour before Fuller’s comments, JSU had its spring game, more like a situational scrimmage.
Comegy termed the game a “50-50″ split between the offense and defense, “some good give and take,” he said.
Dedric McDonald, who won the battle this spring for the No. 1 quarterback job, completed 7 of 17 passes for 118 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Despite playing without a handful of starters, the defense had its moments.
Cox returned a Tevin Chapman pass for a touchdown, LeBeau intercepted a deflected McDonald pass and second-string lineman Sedric Hogan had several tackles for loss and sacks.
Then there was a crushing hit from linebacker Taurice King, the heralded 2010 signee who was injured early in his freshman season and then missed last year.
“He needed today because he wasn’t sure of that leg,” Comegy said. “I think he’ll come in here and really push for a starting job.”
Receivers E.J. Drewery (4-for-45) and Richardson (2-for-58) were McDonald’s main targets. Marquese Dunn (6-for-44) and Rakeem Sims (5-for-26) got most of the carries.
Comegy and players didn’t know about the latest APR situation afterward, but that didn’t stop the coach from hoping the ban is lifted.
Said Comegy: “I would thank God if it was.”
By Ross Dellenger, The Clarion-Ledger